PDW 03: Writing Impactful Essays for “Organization Studies” and “Organization Theory”

Daniel Hjorth
Editor-in-Chief, Organization Studies
Renate E. Meyer
Editor-in-Chief, Organization Studies
Joep P. Cornelissen
Editor-in-Chief, Organization Theory
Markus A. Höllerer
Consulting Editor, Organization Theory

Call for Applications

Depending on the number of applications to this PDW, we will put together a team of roundtable facilitators, including Senior and/or Associate Editors of both journals.

Please note: This PDW will take place on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, from 09:00 to 13:00 CEST!


Both EGOS journals – Organization Studies (OS) and Organization Theory (OT) –are academic outlets focused on publishing research on organizations, organizing, and the organized; and both are open to publish well-crafted essays that extend a long and important tradition in the scholarly progress of knowledge. Since its inauguration, OS has cared for and promoted “flexibility in content and style” (Hickson, 1980, p. 2) and still does (Hjorth et al., 2019), and OT has likewise emphasized its openness to different forms and genres of writing (Cornelissen & Höllerer, 2020). This entails that the essay type of research article finds a natural home in both journals. We indeed see it as a way to move away from convention, templates, and a tendency to mine for too long the “usual stalwarts” (ibid, p. 2) of the field. The essay format is an article type that calls for the provocative, personal, style-conscious, bold, experimental, critical and/or reflexive in attempts to shift attention, address the hitherto unspoken, or move more freely with the new idea in the clearings of established thinking.
If we are to “broaden the remit of theorizing” (Cornelissen & Höllerer, 2019, p. 2) as well as publish the best work in our field, we firmly believe that the flexibility in style that essays represent is a key source of such broadening (Delbridge & Foss, 2013). In a time where the pressure to publish can easily drive a conventional structure and style (at times a template-looking kind; see Cornelissen, 2017) of the research article, both OS and OT want to support authors that ‘dare to know’ (sapere aude), that “have the courage to use your own understanding”, as Kant wrote in his 1784 essay on What is Enlightenment. Kant argues we need to resist “dogmas and formulas”, something he suggests is difficult because we are not “used to such free movement”.
Free movement is a rather precise indication of how critique and creativity collaborate in thinking, in conceptualizing, and in bringing knowledge beyond the present fringe of thought. Such free movement of the unthought means an artistic element is at work (Evens et al., 1998). For nurturing a continuous capacity to renew and challenge knowledge of organizations, organizing, and the organized, we need to know our knowledge (as Foucault describes “critique’ in his reading of Kant’s 1784 essay; cf. Foucault, 1997, p. 80). The ‘dogmas and formulas’ today are not the same as in Kant’s time. Yet, with the massive number of journals in our field, publishing great research, it is easy to fall in with a template-ish style, preventing the more free movement Kant urged us to strive for with his “sapere aude!”
In short, if we are to address the “incoherencies or entire realms of unspeakability” (Butler, 2002, p. 216) it takes both critique and creativity to do so. For this, we need not only the daring-to-know-attitude of the enlightenment (according to Kant), or the know-your-knowledge reflexivity of critique (according to Foucault), but also a creative idea of how to move thought freely, yet write in the succinct form of the essay. This, both OS and OT suggest, is a question of style and a more personal address, which is provided – again in both journals – in the essay: “X and OS” in OS (Hjorth et al., 2019a), and “Controversies and Conversations” as well as the essay-style format with the ‘Theory Article’ section in OT (Cornelissen, Höllerer, and Seidl, 2021). Essays are thus crucial within our academic ‘ecosystem’ of organization and management journals, where they foster new ways of thinking, (re)direct lines of research, and help journals and scholars to move fields of research entrepreneurially ahead (Hjorth & Reay, 2017; Hjorth et al., 2019b).
However, developing and writing essays brings particular challenges. The essay demands of its author more presence, more personality, more consideration of style, tone, idiom, stance, and how to address the reader. This is difficult not only because it seems to pull away from templates and convention and call for the more experimental as the word essaysuggests. It is also difficult, we believe, because most of us have not had much training in how to develop our skills at writing papers, let alone our adeptness at writing essay. The problem is not that there are no straightforward formulas or templates available for how to write great essays; the problem is rather to understand the implications of that there cannot be such templates and formulas. Why bother then?
As with most practices that require training for practitioners to develop their skills, there are examples of what distinguishes the better attempts, and there is of course merit in studying them and in training. Furthermore, implicit expectations about what journals such as OS and OT expect from an essay may not be widely known; more open discussion can help potential authors to overcome these potentially challenging and mystifying aspects of writing an essay.
The purpose of this PDW is therefore to help participants understand (a) the specific expectations regarding how an essay contributes to research as part of what OS and OT publish, and building on those expectations; (b) help them gain a good grasp of how impactful essays for these two journals can be written. The first part of the workshop (9:00–10:15 CEST) features a plenary session on both journals and a short roundtable discussion of common issues and expectations regarding essay writing and research. We will then in the second part of the workshop (10:30–13:00 CEST) divide into roundtable groups where participants will get feedback on their own essays from Senior and Associate Editors of either or both journals.


We invite authors to submit fully developed research essays to be considered for this workshop. In addition, essays that are accepted for presentation at the main colloquium should not be submitted to this workshop. The workshop mainly targets early career researchers and doctoral students, but is also open to more experienced scholars. We particularly encourage scholars who have not yet written essays for OS or OT to apply. Again: everyone interested in this workshop is invited to apply; however, priority will be given to scholars in earlier stages of their careers.
Please submit – via the EGOS website – by April 30, 2021 a single PDF file that contains the following information:

  • on the cover page, a short letter of application containing full details of name, contact (i.e., postal address, phone, and email), affiliation, date of PhD completion (if applicable, stage in the doctoral studies otherwise);

  • a statement of why the applicant considers it valuable to attend the PDW, and an indication of what journal(s) the paper is likely to be submitted to; and

  • a full essay that you wish to further develop to a publishable stage and that you will bring to the PDW.


  • Butler, J. (2002): “What is Critique? An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue.” In: D. Ingram (ed.): The Political. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 212–228.
  • Cornelissen, J. (2017): “Editor’s Comments: Developing Propositions, a Process Model, or a Typology? Addressing the Challenges of Writing Theory Without a Boilerplate.” Academy of Management Review, 42 (1), 1–9.
  • Cornelissen, J., & Höllerer, M.A. (2020): “An Open and Inclusive Space for Theorizing: Introducing Organization Theory.” Organization Theory, https://doi.org/10.1177/2631787719887980.
  • Delbridge, R., & Fiss, P.C. (2013): “Styles of Theorizing and the Social Organization of Knowledge.” Academy of Management Review, 38 (3), 325–331.
  • Evens, A., Haghighi, M., Johnson, S., Ocana, K., & Thompson, G. (1998): “Another Always Thinks in Me.” In: E. Kaufman & K.J. Heller (eds.:) Deleuze and Guattari – New Mappins in Politics, Philosophy, and Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 270–280.
  • Foucault, M. (1997) “What is Critique?” In: M. Foucault: The Politics of Truth. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 41–81.
  • Hjorth, D., Meyer, R., & Reay, T. (2019a): “Introduction to the X and Organization Studies issue.” Organization Studies, 40 (10), 1443–1444.
  • Hjorth, D., Meyer, R., & Reay, T. (2019b): “Happy 40th Birthday, Organization Studies! Looking Back and Looking Ahead.” Organization Studies, 40 (12), 1779–1783.
  • Hjorth, D., & Reay, T. (2018): “Organization Studies: Moving Entrepreneurially Ahead.” Organization Studies, 39 (1), 7–18.
  • Kant, I. (1784): “Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?” [Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?] Originally published in Berlinische Monatsschrift [Berlin Monthly].
Daniel Hjorth is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Organisation at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He is Academic Director for the across CBS Entrepreneurship Business in Society Platform. His books include the “Handbook of Organisational Entrepreneurship” (2012) and (co-editing) the Oxford University Press “Handbook of Process Philosophy and Organisation Studies”. Daniel’s research is focused on the organizational conditions for entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and on social entrepreneurship. Together with Renate Meyer, he is Editor-in-Chief of ‘Organization Studies’.
Renate E. Meyer is Professor of Organization Studies at WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria, and part-time Professor of Institutional Theory at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark; she is also a Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Renate focuses on meaning structures and has recently studied structural forms of institutional pluralism, institutions as multimodal accomplishments, novel organizational forms and patterns of management ideas mostly in areas of urban governance challenges. Together with Daniel Hjorth, she is Editor-in-Chief of ‘Organization Studies’.
Joep P. Cornelissen is Professor of Corporate Communication and Management at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The main focus of his research involves studies of the role of corporate and managerial communication in the context of innovation, entrepreneurship and change, and of social evaluations of the legitimacy and reputation of start-up and established firms. In addition, he also has an interest in questions of scientific reasoning and theory development in management and organization theory. His work has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Organization Science’, and ‘Organization Studies’, among others, and he has written a textbook on corporate communication (“Corporate Communication: A Guide to Theory and Practice”, SAGE), which is now in its 4th edition. Joep is Editor-in-Chief of ‘Organization Theory’.
Markus A. Höllerer is Professor of Organization and Management Theory at UNSW Sydney, Australia; he is also affiliated with the Research Institute for Urban Management and Governance at WU Vienna, Austria. His scholarly work has been focused on the study of institutions, meaning, and novel forms of organization and governance. His research interests include, among others, issues of collaborative governance at the interface of the private sector, public administration, and civil society. Markus is Consulting Editor of the journal 'Organization Theory'.